Medicine Hat Minute: Derelict Properties, Council Break, and New Budget Process
Medicine Hat Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Medicine Hat politics
This Week In Medicine Hat:
There are no meetings at City Hall this week. The next scheduled meeting takes place on Tuesday, October 3rd, when City Council will convene.
- Maintenance is taking place on three trails around the city. A section of the trail along Police Point Drive will be closed to the public while work takes place, as will the timber boardwalk along Saratoga Trail and a portion of McCutcheon Trail. The City’s Trailforks app has more information about the specific closure locations and dates.
- The City is clarifying that distribution of recently approved cost-relief credits depends on the bill processing date rather than the receipt date. If the utility statement date is before September 18th, it won't include the credit. However, if the date is on or after September 18th, the credit should appear on the statement. The city is automatically waiving late penalty, NSF, and disconnect notice fees on utility accounts from June 1st, 2023, to September 18th, 2023.
Last Week In Medicine Hat:
The Medicine Hat Regional Hospital celebrated the grand opening of the eSIM program, three years after its launch. The program offers simulation training to medical teams using advanced mannequins that can interact, speak, and mimic medical scenarios. The program has been well-received by medical staff, increasing their comfort levels and improving patient care through enhanced training and communication. There are 15 other eSIM labs across the province, with hopes to further expand.
- A Council committee recommended adopting last year's prolonged City budget approval process as the norm for next year's two-year financial plan presentation. Administration suggested holding six meetings dedicated solely to budget matters over nine months, aiming to streamline discussions and enhance transparency and public engagement. This approach would replace the previous practice of presenting and passing budgets in one or two meetings with minimal amendments. While some argued that Council took too long to decide on the budget last year, a comparison with other municipalities in Alberta revealed that the process, while taking more time than was allocated to Council, was debated for less time overall than in other Alberta municipalities. The new budget process will be debated by Council on October 3rd.
- Councillor Shila Sharps advocated for a more effective approach to compel the cleanup of derelict properties in the city. She believes that the existing "unsightly property bylaw" is weak and she has drafted a Notice of Motion to review it. This review would explore options to strengthen penalties and other measures for non-compliance. The current bylaw allows fines for residential and business properties that do not meet maintenance requirements, but complaints are generally required to trigger investigations. Sharps is suggesting looking into requirements like security systems and exterior painting, as other cities have implemented such measures to address similar issues. In past cases, cleanup orders were issued for problematic properties, but fines were not imposed upon compliance.
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